Game Night Creates “Ohana”

Shaun and Jessica Key’s small group started from a casual, summer game night at their house. Forming a group for married couples wasn’t our intention,” Shaun said. “It was just that we had so much fun. We realized we had the potential for a small group. I’ve been involved with youth ministry for years, but this is the first time I’ve really led an adult group.” 

“And we’re loving it!” Jessica said. “But it’s still funny to me that people look to us for advice. Yes, we’ve been married 19 years and have 3 children, but we’ve put each other through a lot over the years. We’ve learned so much about grace and forgiveness, how God can restore. So we’re happy to offer up any of what we’ve learned if it’ll help somebody. Our group ranges from couples engaged and newlywed to those who’ve been married for many years. No matter where you are along the way, everybody goes through rough patches. We’re all honest about that. We want to be transparent.” 

Bringing People Together

“We have a lot of racial diversity in our group,” Shaun said. “This past fall, we began The Third Option study, based on the book by Miles McPherson about healing racial divisions. It’s spurring great conversations. We get to know more about everybody’s backgrounds, their views, and what they saw growing up and how it affected them.” 

The couples in the Keys’ married small group come from very different backgrounds in other ways as well. “For instance,” Jessica said, “our religious backgrounds—I didn’t grow up in a religious home at all, while others grew up Catholic, Baptist, Methodist. And we come from all different parts of the country, up north, here in the South, from the east coast, and west coast…and me from Hawaii.” 

For the Keys, it was difficult having no blood family nearby. “In South Carolina,” Jessica said, “we have no family, no “ohana”, as we say in Hawaiian. But recently, when our small group learned that our oldest daughter, Lei, 17, was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, they offered to bring us dinner, and babysit our other kids. They offered things that we hadn’t really thought about, like serving as an emergency contact for our kids at school. So if needed, they could pick them up for us while we were at the hospital. Before that, we hadn’t had anyone to list on the emergency card. Those kind offers and knowing they were praying for us, that was all we needed to hear. We have ohana now. A family.

What about you? Are you in a small group? Shaun has some great advice for us. “Don’t hold off because you feel like you need to know everything first. That’s not true at all. Just come with an open heart to learn as you go. Relationships come first…with God and with the people you’ll meet. Then you, too, can find ohana.” For more information, visit